Ariad raises funds; Does McGlynn's exit signal Merck shake-up?;

> Hoping to capitalize on the excitement over mid-stage results for its lead drug candidate, a breast cancer treatment, Ariad announced that it will raise funds through an offering of 17 million shares. Release

> Astellas Pharma plans to file an NDA in Japan for ASP8825 as a potential treatment for moderate-to-severe primary restless legs syndrome by March 31, 2010. Release

> The FDA has granted Orphan Drug designation to DOR BioPharma's orBec for the treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with chronic Graft-versus-Host disease in patients who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Report

> Facet Biotech and Biogen Idec are planning a Phase III trial of daclizumab high-yield process in multiple sclerosis (MS). The company plans to request a Special Protocol Assessment from the FDA prior to the initiation of this study. The companies expect to start the phase 3 trial during the first half of 2010. Release

> Journal of Clinical Oncology has published data from a Phase III study of Cephalon's Treanda demonstrating that the drug improved clinical outcomes when compared to chlorambucil in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Report

Pharma News

> In a surprise departure, Merck vaccines chief Margaret McGlynn (photo) has announced her retirement. Her sayonara could indicate a major revamping of top management in the wake of the merger with Schering-Plough, analysts said. Report

> No doubt, 2009 is the year of the emerging market. We all know that Big Pharma has been falling all over itself, moving into the developing world by leaps and bounds. But emerging markets aren't a panacea. They're full of pitfalls. Report

> As if to underscore the growing importance of international drug markets, today's news was full of developments from around the globe, particularly Asia. Drug co-promotions, manufacturing standards, and counterfeiting--all issues that affect drugmakers doing business globally. Here's a sampling. Report

> With Roche's Tamiflu among the linchpin pandemic-flu remedies, the drug is getting more scrutiny than ever before--some good, some not so much. Flu report

> We all know that antidepressant use has skyrocketed in the U.S. That drug class encompasses some of the biggest-selling meds in pharma. But a new study shows just how much the market has grown: The share of Americans taking antidepressant meds doubled to 10.1 percent in 2005 from 1996. That's some 27 million people age 6 and older. Report

Research News

> Two years ago the FDA rejected Novartis' Cox-2 inhibitor Prexige on concerns that the drug would cause liver damage in some patients. But Novartis is hoping to revive the drug with the help of a genetic test that would determine which patients would be at risk for liver damage, and which could safely take the drug. Report

> University of Washington have developed fluorescent nanoparticles that could eventually be used to improved MRI images in patients afflicted with brain cancer. Report

> Harvard Medical School researchers have succeeded in converting mouse and human skin cells into brown fat cells--a discovery that may advance research on medicines to fight obesity and Type II diabetes. Report

> U.S. researchers searching for clues to help develop a better malaria vaccine believe they may have found the origin of disease. Malaria story

And Finally... Pneumonic plague has killed three people in China, though health officials say there's little chance that the outbreak will cause mass fatalities. Report